Monday, September 8, 2008

Jamie Smith on Faith and Knowledge

James McGrath posted a short review today of a book I definitely need to read: What Does a Progressive Christian Believe?: A Guide for the Searching, the Open, and the Curious by Delwin Brown. As I noted in the comments, the book reminds me of James (or Jamie) K.A. Smith's interesting book The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic, which argues that limited perspective and interpretation are inherent to the biblical picture of humanity as created by God (not just "since the fall"), and that this means faith is necessary to knowledge. Here are a few quotes:

There is always already interpretation in every relationship, which means that there is also room for plurality, or rather, plurality is the necessary result of irreducible difference.... But if interpretation is part of being human, then its analogue is a creational diversity: a multitude of ways to "read" the world. (pg. 156)

[I]n the end I would argue that every hermeneutic judgment is a kind of leap of faith, a certain trust or commitment, a belief that gropes beyond mere presence. Every interpretive judgment, then, should be accompanied by a corresponding hermeneutic humility or uncertainty. (pg. 157)

Before knowledge there is acknowledgement; before seeing there is blindness, before questioning there is a commitment; before knowing there is faith.

While blindness is the condition for the possibility of faith, there is also a sense in which faith is blinded because it sees too much, blinded by bedazzlement, "the very bedazzlement that, for example, knocks Paul on the ground on the road to Damascus." (pg. 183, quoting Jacques Derrida, Memoirs of the Blind, pg. 112)

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